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“The bible teaches that marriage is scared and that God intended men and women to become one through marriage.” Genesis 2:21-24 In the eyes of Catholics, marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament is an outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace. When Catholics marry they believe that God ratifies their union. Jesus constantly reminded us that it is through loving that we live life to the full. The more we love, the more we live and accept God’s gift of life. In the love they share in marriage, a man and woman are called to help each other to live and love. They see it as something in which God is deeply involved in and which also involves the whole community. That is why a wedding takes place in a church.
Roman Catholics believe that marriage is a covenant. The words contract and covenant are very different. In a contract a person gives in order to receive, a sort of 50 – 50 deal. To think about marriage as a contract is not good, because if one partner does not give the 50% for one reason or another, the relationship rests on a weak basis and more likely to fail. Marriage is a partnership between two people based on mutual Trust. A covenant is a much richer way to describe marriage, it asks for 100% effort by both partners.
The word covenant goes back to the Old Testament times, when God made his promises to various people, e.g. Abraham and Moses. “I will be your God and you will be my people.” God was faithful to his promise of love even though the Jews often turned away from him. In the New Testament Jesus’ blood shed for us on the cross is described as the blood of the New Covenant. Marriage as a covenant is creative and is to be open to the procreation of Children.
A Christian marriage reflects God who is love. A Christian marriage helps Christians realise that the bond of love between a married couple has not only brought them closer to each other but also brought them closer to Christ. The love of God is shown in the life of Jesus who gave his life to God’s people. Roman Catholics believe that through marriage God’s love is reflected in the love that the husband and wife have for each other. Couples share in an exclusive love like that which God showed to us in the life of his son.
St. Paul made the comparison of how a married couple should love each other like Christ loves his followers. “Husbands love your wives, just as much as Christ loves the church and gave his life for it.”(Ephesians) St. Paul also tells us what this love is like in a letter to the Corinthians “Love is always kind, patient, never jealous, it is never rude.” The sacrament of marriage gives us an active insight into Gods love for us and how deeply it really is. St. Johns letter shows us a further insight into this love. “God is love, and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him”
Roman Catholics believe marriage is a sacrament, a sign for all to see. In celebrating the sacrament of marriage the couple invite Jesus to be with them in their love and in their married life. The marriage is a sign of Gods love for his people. In the married couple we can see a reflection of God’s unconditional love, therefore marriage is a public sign of love the couple have for each other. “My children, our love is not meant to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.
” Love is something that is to be lived out though each other and through the eyes of god. In the service and at the time of the sacrament the couple profess their love for each other in-front of God. “We promise to love each other truly, for better, for worse, for richer…” In the Book of Genesis we learn more about the sacrament of marriage, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will give him a help mate…. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” Marriage is only made holy in the sacrament and it is a celebration shared with a community.
Roman Catholics believe marriage is exclusive. To live out the sacrament of marriage to the full the couple must be prepared to love each other exclusively and their commitment of unconditional love and fidelity for the rest of their lives. “Thou shall not commit adultery” is the sixth commandment and adultery is a betrayal of the permanent commitment of love that a person has made. That commitment is “will you love and honour each other for life.” In taking this commitment it should not be broken, trust can be lost and a parent who commits adultery betrays the children of the marriage by putting at risk the stability and secure love a family should provide. “Every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. A man should fulfil the duty as a husband and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife….” (Corinthians 7:10-11) Marriage in the Christian tradition is a lifelong commitment of one partner to the other, and is based on the teaching of Jesus on the permance of marriage.
Roman Catholics believe that marriage is life giving and should be open to the transmission of new life. Marriage is life giving and it involves responsible parenthood. The love exchanged in sex creative and should always be open. “Every marriage should remain open to the transmission of life.” Humanae Vitae. Families develop from the loving relationship of a married couple. “Will you accept children lovingly from God.” The love, which is shared, is not for the couple alone instead love is always creative. In God’s plan for the world the union of man and wife was designed not only for mutual happiness but so that through their love, God could continue his creative work. Christians understand that marriage is usually an invitation from God to co-operate with him in bringing new life into the world.
Roman Catholics believe that marriage is permanent. Marriage in the Christian tradition is a life long commitment. “In the beginning, at the time of creation God made male and female for this reason, a man will leave his mother and father and the two will become one.” Jesus underlines in these words the permanence of marriage. Catholics believe a marriage between Christians can never be dissolved so although for legal reasons a catholic may get a civil divorce the church still considers them to be married and they can not remarry in the church ” all the days of our lives until death do us part” This shows the couples commitment to each other is for life and is emphasised in their vows.
Marriage is an exclusive relationship in that married people remain faithful to each other “Will you love and honour each other for life” In the Catholic church only annulment or death of one partner frees a person to remarry in the church. In the Church of England they teach that marriage is for life but accepts there may be circumstances where the vows can’t be kept. The church prays for forgiveness and acknowledges for some divorce and remarriage. The Orthodox Church teaches wedding vows are taken with every intention of being kept but there are times this doesn’t happen thus the couple should be realised from their vows.
Some free churches say it is not the death of one of the spouses that end a marriage but the death of the love between the couple, so it is better to divorce than to live a lie. All denominations teach that marriage is for life; it is when things go wrong they take a different attitude. When things go wrong separation is not the only option, there is help groups such as RELATE and ACCORD who offer guidance for the couples who are finding married life difficult, these groups try to keep the marriage permanent by solving the problems that are causing the marriage to be difficult instead of avoiding the problem which can end in divorce.